Chapter 13
The Second Railway Building Era
Table of Contents

Title Page
1 A place called Hamilton.
2 Public Works and Private Enterprise
3 Port Hamilton
4 1837-1839
5 Ericsson Wheels
6 1844-1847
7 Good Times in Port
8 Boom Town Days
9 Depression Years
10 Better Times Ahead
11 1867-1870
12 Prosperity for the Shipbuilders
13 The Second Railway Building Era
14 1884-1888
15 The Electric Era
16 The Iron Age
Table of Illustrations


West End Wharves, 1882
The Merchants' Line announced its appointments for the new season and these were printed in the Spectator on the 1 April. On the Lake Ontario to Montreal service: PERSIA,Capt. Cairns,DOMINION,Capt. R. McMaugh and DROMEDARY,Capt. Burrows.Montreal and Chicago service: CELTIC,Capt. Geo. Malcolmson,OCEAN,Capt. A. McMaugh and PRUSSIA,Capt. E. Wright. The Montreal and Lake Erie Trade would be handled by the CALIFORNIA,Capt. H. Vaughan,AFRICA,Capt. F. Patterson and ALMA MUNRO,Capt. J. H. Scott. The propellers ARGYLE and CLINTON will operate mostly on the Upper Lakes.

The New England Transportation Co. would have the CUBA and ARMENIA in service between Toronto and Ogdensburg, while the CITY OF MONTREAL will make the Oswego run.

The winter had been fairly mild and there was not nearly as much snow in the woods as the lumbermen would like to see. Consequently, the outlook for the timber trade in 1882 was not too bright. The previous season had been excellent and there were 13 rafts and 20 cargoes of square timber, totaling about 1,600,000 cubic feet, sent down from Hamilton to Quebec, plus a raft of spars and masts for Boston. In addition to theses several cargoes of pipe and West India staves were loaded for the English market. The value of these shipments exceeded $600,000, the railways collected $35,000 in freight, and the cost of making up the rafts and towing them amounted to nearly $40,000, A heavier trade in staves was looked for and it was hoped that this would offset, to some degrees the lesser amount of square timber.

Along the docks, the schooner E. H. RUTHERFORD,Capt. Peter Davis, was fitting out for the Upper Lakes and would leave as soon as the Welland Canal opened. The propeller CANADA,Capt. McGiffin, was being made ready to join the Collingwood-Chicago service. At the shipyards work was progressing on the new propeller, the steam yacht CLARA LOUISE was awaiting a new boiler being made by J. H. Killey & Co. and the DENNIS BOWEN was undergoing general repairs.

The Gartshore Foundry on Stuart Street, successfully cast the cylinder block for the new composite steamer, after two unsuccessful attempts were made at the old Dundas Foundry. The casting weighed 8,400 lbs and was the largest made in Canada. The second boiler for this vessel was to be ready in a week.

The schooner ELLA MURTON sailed from Hamilton on the 20 April for Kingston, to load scrap iron for the Ontario Rolling Mills Co. @ $1.00 per ton.

On the 5 May, harbour activity included the departure of the SPARTAN for Montreal and the arrival of the CELTIC from dry dock at Port Dalhousie. The schooner WHITE OAK was loading grain at the Great Western Elevator for Kingston and a raft of timber awaited the arrival of the tug McARTHUR to tow it to Quebec. The raft consisted of five drams and belonged to J. S. Murphy, of Quebec.

On the evening of 11 May, the schooner GULNARE,Capt. Jas. Johnson of Hamilton, had a close call. She had left Hamilton a week previously in bad weather, after lying for several days at the piers. She was laden with timber and a deck-load of staves for Kingston. After trying to beat her way down the Lake, the weather deteriorated and she was forced to run before the wind, now at gale force, with driving rain. At a point about two miles east of the piers, she dropped anchor and hoisted a distress signal. She rode out the gale all the next day and that afternoon, when the propeller CELTIC came rolling past, the distress signal was down and she had lost part of her load of staves. The CELTIC attempted to round-to and tie up at MacKay's Wharf, but being light of cargo, she was carried past and had to go the Railway Wharf. Other schooners in port during the storm were the ACACIA and UNDINE, which were at anchor off Browne's Wharf and the W. T. GREENWOOD, berthed at Browne's. The ELLA MURTON lay at the piers.

The boisterous seas did some damage to Murton & Reid's Wharf, as well as Robertson's. Over at Burlingtong heavy damage was inflicted on McCulloch's, Baxter's, Dalton's and Acland's Wharves, while the Redpath Wharf was totally destroyed.

The ELLA MURTON finally got away and unloaded her cargo of wheat at Kingston and then ran light to Brockville, where she loaded rails for Hamilton. As the storm went its way, schooners began to arrive, the SPEEDWELL and the DUNDEE, with coal for Myles along with the SWEEPSTAKES,and the CATARACT, both with coal from Charlotte. The American schooner J. E. BAILEY arrived at Murton & Reid's Wharf.

The iron side-wheel tug CONQUEROR arrived on the 21 May to tow a raft containing 125,000 cu. ft. of timber to Quebec for Flatt & Bradley. This tug had been built in 1871 at Renfrew by Henderson, Coulbourn & Co., for W. Ross and W. F. Kerr of Glasgow and J. G. Ross of Quebec, She measured 136.6 x 21.7 x 11.8 and her tonnages were, Gross 233, net 24. Her engine was an inclined simple engine with two cylinders 36 x 66, supplied by the shipbuilders. Her registered owner in 1882 was Mrs. Michael McNamara of Quebec.

The CELTIC, outward bound on the 20 May, called at Burlington, where she took on 3,100 kegs of powder from the Hamilton Powder Co. mills on the Twelve Mile Creek in Nelson Township.

Propeller ACADIA in the Thousand Islands after she had been lengthened. Photo: Author's Collection
The ACADIA arrived in Hamilton on the 25 May for the first time since her extensive rebuild at Muir's Dry Dock in Pt. Dalhousie. She was lengthened by 34 feet and having made a voyage to Toledo, where she loaded 20,000 bus. of corn for Montreal,she had time to prove that she handled perfectly. On her funnel was the red band of the Western Express Line and she would trade from Montreal to Duluth, along with the ST. MAGNUS and the GLENFINLAS. She brought 500 tons of general cargo, which she was unloading at Zealand's Wharf. After one more trip to Montreal with grain and general, she would load for Michipicoten Island and Duluth.Capt. S. Malcolmson was in command and the Chief Engineer was John Guyette.

The tug S. S. EDSALL came in the same day to take a raft down to Quebec and the ALGERIAN arrived and departed. The DROMEDARY was loading a cargo of staves at the Great Western Ry. Wharf for Quebec.

An interesting visitor was in the harbour on the 30 May in the form of the little steam barge BELLE WILSON of Picton. She was built in 1881 at Picton by George Tate for Collier & Co. of Picton. Her dimensions were 103.3 x 24.1 x 10.1; Gross 186; Net 100. She sailed for Golden Valley to load railroad ties for Pt. Huron.

On the 2 June, the three-masted schooner D. M. FOSTER berthed at McIlwraith's Wharf with a good cargo of 500 tons of stove coal from Fairhaven, N.Y. There was fair amount of traffic in and out of the harbour, but most of the captains were complaining of low rates and the difficulty of obtaining cargoes.

The schooner UNDINE was at Kingston on the 23 June loading iron ore at the Kingston & Pembroke Ry. docks for Ashtabula and would load coal there for Hamilton. The ST. MAGNUS was unloading general cargo at Zealand's Wharf, the ACADIA was on her way down from Chicago and the GLENFINLAS was bound up the Lakes for Chicago and Milwaukee.

Saturday, the 24 June, was a very stormy day with violent thunderstorms in the area and a gale of wind that caught the big tug CONQUEROR in the middle of the harbour with her raft. She was forced to anchor and managed to hold onto the raft. The reporter for the Hamilton Spectator noted, that the Frenchmen didn't bother to show any lights on the tug or the raft after sundown, thereby creating a menace to navigation. He suggested that a fine of $100 might straighten them out.

The Government chartered the propeller CALIFORNIA for the Lighthouse Supply Trip this year and she was advertised to sail from Montreal on the 3 July and would be expected in Hamilton one week later.

The coal business held, strong with the schooners ACACIA from Oswego for Murton & Reid, the ARCTIC expected from Cleveland and the CLARA YOUELL from Oswego, along with the NORTH STAR.Murton & Reid's coal usually came from Oswego,McIlwraith's from Fairhaven,Browne's from Sodus Point and Myles' from Charlotte. There were occasional cargoes from Cleveland and Ashtabula.

On the 24 June the steamer GENEVA brought a large excursion party from Dundas to the Beach.

The propeller MYLES and the schooner T.R. MERRIT unloading grain at the "Town House" Elevator in Midland. Photo: Author's Collection
The composite steamer MYLES was launched on Saturday morning, 2 September without any hitches. The ways had been wedged up and well greased and several Jack-screws applied the necessary force to start her on her way. Capt. Sweet hurled the bottle at her, scoring a direct hit on her stem. He had evidently had some experience on the baseball diamond or the cricket pitch. To say that such unorthodox treatment on so auspicious an occasion as the launching of a ship would have an adverse bearing upon her future, would be recalling the ancient superstitions of seamen. There always was superstition when when something unusual occurred at a launching and the MYLES did have her unfortunate mishaps, as will be seen as time goes on.

The MYLES measured 175.0 x 33.6 x 15.2 with a gross tonnage of 1,211 and net 929. Her engine was a compound 24/46 x 36 and steam was supplied by two Scotch Marine fire-tube boilers 8'0" x 10'0". Her managing owner was Thomas Myles who, with Charles James Myles, owned all the shares.

On Friday, the 15 September, the propeller ASIA,Capt. J. N. Savage, foundered. in Georgian Bay, while on a voyage from Owen Sound to the French River. According to reports, the vessel was grossly overloaded and had taken on more passengers than she was licensed to carry. She had left port the night before the disaster, with people sleeping on the cabin floor. The total number of people aboard could only be estimated and the entire crew was lost by drowning or exposure and of the passengers, two survived, being found by an Indian near Pointe au Baril. Tugs were sent out but found only pieces of floating wreckage. The ASIA had been taken to Georgian Bay to replace the steamer MANITOULIN, which was destroyed by fire earlier in the season. The ASIA was built in 1873 at St. Catharines by Melancthon Simpson for J. C. Graham of St. Catharines. Her dimensions were 136.0 x 28.4 x 7.4; Gross tonnage was 347 and net 267.

Another steamer acquired for the Georgian Bay trade never reached that body of water. She was the PICTON,Capt. Dunn, which had been on the Toronto-Port Dalhousie route for the past five years and on the night of 20 September, she was wrecked on Rondeau Point,Lake Erie. She was a sideheeler built in 1870 at Mill Point by William Jamieson and measuring 158.0 x 26.0 x 8.0, with tonnages of 801 and 490. Her owner was James S. McCuaig of Picton.Capt. Dunn and his 18 men got ashore, but the vessel was a total loss.

The propeller DROMEDARY unloaded general cargo from Montreal on

the 17 November and since that day happened to be a Friday, Capt. Burrows went ashore for the night. He would sail from Hamilton on Saturday for Toronto, to load grain for Buffalo. Such was not to be. At 1:00 a.m. on Saturday, the crew was awakened by a strong smell of smoke. The boiler room was ablaze and after an attempt to fight the fire, they hastily abandoned ship and cut her moorings. She drifted out onto the Rush Bed and was destroyed. Her owners were Capt. Burrows and W. Crankshaw and she was insured for $10,000. She was abandoned to the underwriters, who sold the wreck, as is, to A. M. Robertson, the shipbuilder. When winter's ice had well set, Robertson removed the machinery and hauled it to his yard.


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This volume is copyright The Estate of Ivan S. Brookes and is published with permission of the Estate. The originals are deposited in the Special Collections of the Hamilton Public Library.